Frequently Asked Questions

Instructor's Guide to Reserves, E-Reserves and Course Packs

I would like my students to read a wide range of material that is not in one textbook. What are the options?

There are several good ways to provide access to course materials for your students. The best option depends on the material itself.

Placing books or other physical materials on reserve at one of the UW Libraries' reserve units works best for optional readings, small classes, or when the selections are fairly short. It does not work well when 50 students are competing for one book during a short period of time.

E-reserves work best for a small number of short readings. It is an especially attractive option because readings are available 24/7 both on and off campus. The best e-reserves are smaller than 2.0 MB, which is usually fewer than 25 pages. Larger files take a long time to download and print. The instructor is responsible for complying with U.S. copyright law. See the UW Libraries guidelines for copyright and reserves for details. The UW Libraries license many electronic journals and books for UW affiliates. Electronic materials that have been licensed by the UW Libraries can often be placed on e-reserve without additional copyright permission. If material is not licensed electronically, reserve use without permission from the copyright owner is generally limited to a single chapter or article.

Course packs work best for long readings, a large number of readings, or repeated use of non-licensed, copyrighted materials. They also provide students with a convenient, bound copy of the course materials. Students pay copyright permissions fees and photocopy costs. At the Seattle and Bothell campuses, contact UW Copyright Permissions Center. For the Tacoma campus contact the UWT Copy/Mail Center.


What about my syllabus, class notes, tests and papers?


As long as you own the copyright you can place material on library reserves or electronic reserves. Students own the copyright for papers they write for your class. Student work may also be protected by FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) in addition to copyright law, so you must get student permission in writing before sharing their work.


What are economics of electronic reserves and course packs?


It is important to balance time and money in making the choice between e-reserves and course packs. Both options require you to provide good, clean originals of the readings to be copied or scanned.

Course packs are extremely fast and easy for students. Depending on the number of pages and the copyright fees, they can sometimes be less expensive for students than printing e-reserves in one of the libraries.

E-reserves require faculty to take responsibility for copyright compliance. Downloading and printing of short readings can be easy and fairly fast and inexpensive for students. Students can even read the materials online and avoid printing costs. If the readings are long, or if there are a lot of them, downloading and printing can be time-consuming and frustrating. For example, on a home printer, a pdf file can take up to 2 minutes per page to print. It's faster to download and print in the library or one of the campus computer labs, but more expensive.

For long selections from a book, it may even be cost effective to have the students purchase the book.


Can I put readings on my course website, Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle or other course ware?


Yes, but the same copyright considerations apply. To scan a document and put it on the web so that it is legible and small takes some effort. If you need assistance in setting up your scanner to create smaller files, please contact library staff. The better the quality of the photocopies you start with, the more readable the pdf files will be.


For UW licensed electronic materials, can I download the pdf for e-reserves?


If the license does not allow you to download the pdf for e-reserves, you must create a link instead. In most cases, the url that displays at the top of the page will work on campus only. Logging in to a campus web site or portal with a UW NetID does not automatically mean that any resources a user tries to access will be proxied. To access the readings from off campus, you need to create a URL that forces the user through the UW Libraries proxy server.

To create a proxied URL, prepend to the actual URL. For example, If you want to make the link for ProQuest Databases ( available from off-campus, the URL will look like this:

More information is available at

Please note that some of the urls in the Libraries licensed resources are not stable. The Health Science Library has developed some information about constructing urls for the exceptions in linking to online journals and linking to online book chapters.


Can I just link to an e-book in my course ware or website if the library owns or has it licensed?


Using e-books for a class is still a developing model. Some vendors allow the Libraries to license their books for an unlimited number of concurrent readers. Others allow only one reader at a time, similar to using a print copy of a book. Students, sharing what is essentially one copy of a book, may not always have access when they want it, especially right before an exam.

How do you know the difference?

E-books provided by Project MUSE, ebrary's Academic Complete, ClinicalKey, AccessMedicine or AccessPharmacy allow an unlimited number of concurrent readers and work nicely for classes. Other vendors are more restrictive.

Consult your subject librarian or liaison if you have questions about linking to an e-book from another provider.


What are my options for music, images or film?